Event kicks off initiative linking artists with nonprofits

By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer

Haywood County jeweler Diannah Beauregard believes that art can change the world.

With that as a starting point, Beauregard is embarking on a project that is quickly gaining interest in the local art community. StudioEarth centers around the concept of creating art for a greater purpose — to benefit local charities and nonprofits, in a way that truly gives back to the community.

StudioEarth will hold its inaugural event, “Gateway to the Arts, Fine Art and Craft Show,” from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 30, at the Gateway Club in downtown Waynesville. Proceeds from the $5 ticket sales will fund scholarships to students enrolled in Haywood Community College’s Professional Crafts Program.

The HCC art program seemed like the perfect candidate to serve as the beneficiary of the first StudioEarth initiative, especially since Beauregard and some of the other artists in the show are graduates of the program.

“Sponsoring an art show that supports HCC Professional Crafts students has been on my agenda since I opened my business,” Beauregard says. “I hold the community college in such high regard and want to support and nourish the very thing that gave me the cornerstone of my foundation as a leading jeweler in Haywood County.”

Local artists have created special pieces to sell at the event, ranging from $15 weavings to $15,000 necklaces. Participating artists include Joel Queen, traditional Cherokee potter and sculptor; Kaaren Stoner, ceramicist; Teresa Pennington, “Artist of the Blue Ridge;” Bob Travers, landscape and wildlife paintings; and many more.


A larger vision

The Gateway to the Arts event will kick off what Beauregard considers a culmination of her life’s work. Beauregard, who owns Studio 33 in Waynesville, has already had some foray into using her art to benefit local organizations. Sales of certain pieces she crafts go to benefit environmental efforts in the mountains; the Haywood Animal Welfare Association; and the Haywood County Arts Council.

“Bridging the world of art and social awareness can create a truly wonderful win-win situation,” Beauregard says.

She says Haywood County is the perfect location to expand on that idea. The area serves as a unique incubator for dozens of local artisans and crafters. The existence of HCC’s program means the community is constantly molding new artists. Moreover, the county is a place where many artists are full-time, and make a living from their work. They’re an important part of the local economy. A recently released study found that arts and crafts in the region bring $206 million each year to the economy. Beauregard herself won a Chamber of Commerce contest for small business startups in 2007, which helped her open her studio.

“I believe that art and craft in Haywood County is really a mainstay,” she says. “I want to see art and craft be what drives our community. We are being given a golden opportunity in Haywood County to establish that model.”

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